My partner has been playing the MMO Final Fantasy XIV since its initial release in 2010. Since we’ve been together, he’s tried to convince me to join him. He’s assured me multiple times that I would have fun, and I’ve agreed that I probably would, but I don’t want to pay a monthly subscription to a game. MMO’s are a very hard sell for me. Selling anything to me is a very hard sell. I don’t like spending money.
But then Twitch gave me something I’ve always wanted—a free demo. From February 4th to May 3rd, you can sign up with a Square Enix account and play a starter pack version of the game for free. I told my partner about the deal and he gasped. With glee, he helped me set up my character, the lovely, giant, Ean Kaninchen.
Ean has a world to help rebuild, and evil people to destroy, but all I want to do is cook. She’s got a group of heroes to corral, and a bunch of skills to learn, and all I want to do is cook. I dunno, there’s stuff happening in the world that’s bad, and that’s all fine and good, but all I want to do is cook.
This shouldn’t surprise me. Considering cooking games are my absolute favorite gaming genre. I have an entire episode of Non-Player Conversations where chef Andy Lunique and I list off our favorite cooking games. When I saw that there were gathering classes in FFXIV like botanist, goldsmith, and fisher, I should have seen the seal of my fate when I saw that delicious word—culinarian.
For some reason, my love to cook in games doesn’t translate in real life. I joked in the podcast that we’ll all be playing cooking games in virtual reality when there’s a kitchen 5 feet away from us, but in reality that is exactly what I want to do. I don’t dislike cooking in an actual kitchen, but I just don’t love it as much as I do in a fantasy world. There’s something enchanting about the ways fictional characters move with fire’s burning glow. In this case, Ean cooks on a stove. I have to do the perfect balance of “touching” the food and “synthesizing” it to create high-quality or low-quality food. In other cases, like Monster Hunter, you spit-roasting a piece a meat over a fire. Stop the meat at the perfect time and you’ll have a good cook, otherwise it’ll be burned. In Breath of the Wild, Link merely needs to find and gather the ingredients; the fire does rest for him.
Every time I level up my cook, I’m elated. More levels means more food to learn, more ingredients to gather, more dishes to share with others. Whenever there’s a new quest for me, I run to the culinary guild (the cooking club) and skip to head chef. “I’m here chef!” is a thing I’ve said aloud. Sometimes I cook in front of the head chef (an NPC who cannot see anything) so he can see how much I’ve learned.
Right now, I currently look like a motorcyclist who keeps a portable stove with her. And while that’s definitely cool, that’s not the look I ultimately want. I want to dethrone the head chef. I want to show him the new dishes I can make on my own. I want to—huh? There’s a evil people afoot? Oh right there’s a main story thing I forgot about.
Yesterday, during the tongue-twister Final Fantasy 14 Fan Festival (phew!), Square Enix announced new races, classes, and areas for the MMO. Almost twenty years since its release, the game shows no sign of slowing down quite yet. Some people are a disappointed to see new gender-locked classes. Hrothgar is a male-only class of lion people who look more like buff men wearing lion masks and body paint. The Viera, a group of lady-bunnies, look exactly how the term “lady-bunnies” sound. I’m sure you get the point.
Anyway, I say all of this to sound relevant. I don’t care about the men with lion faces or the women with bunny ears, I just want to cook. I want that chef’s outfit, and I also want a chef’s kiss emote to go with my chef’s outfit, because Ean doesn’t want to save your world just yet. She wants to make level 70 pineapple juice because for some reason pineapples are a goddamn rarity in this game.
The game is very fun though so check it out lol. I’ve already subscribed so I guess I’m in it for the long haul. Or at least until I max out my cooking skills.